Watching a loved one suffer when we can do nothing to alleviate their pain creates a great sense of helplessness and frustration. Prayers for relief are not always answered immediately, and nothing we do may help.
"LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? How long shall they utter and speak hard things, and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves? They break in pieces Thy people, O LORD, and afflict Thine heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless" (Psalm 94:3-6).
We can feel the perplexity and anguish of the Psalmist as he views the miseries of the Israel He loves. He approaches the Lord, and ultimately expresses confidence in coming deliverance. "For the LORD will not cast off His people, neither will He forsake his inheritance. But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it" (Psalm 94:14-15). In the hour of trial, however, when no respite comes, a great challenge to faith presents itself. "Why standest Thou afar off, O LORD? Why hidest thou Thyself in times of trouble?" (Psalm 10:1).
The brightest light of truth in such times shines forth in the illumination that God Himself knows the sorrow we feel. "The Lord is gracious and full of compassion… The Lord is very pitiful" (Psalm 111:4; James 5:11). Our Heavenly Father takes no pleasure in the suffering of His loved ones. Like ourselves, however, there are times when He can do nothing to alleviate present miseries. His love, wisdom, and eternal purposes necessitates the allowance or even administration of pain during our earthly lives. "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). Divine compassion hurts with its beloved. Divine constraint based on our best interests, however, often means that our Father cannot engage His hand of deliverance from His children's sorrows and sufferings during our present existence.
Certainly the Lord Jesus knew such commiseration during His earthly lifetime. "We have not a High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities" (Hebrews 4:15). For the first three decades of the Lord's life, He could not act to relieve the sorrows and pains of humanity. His Father's purposes did not allow for that (Luke 2:51-52). Only during His ministry could the Lord Jesus teach to comfort inner sorrows, heal to relieve physical pain, and ultimately die to take upon Himself the very cause of human misery. Thus, He suffered much before His days of ministry, being "moved with compassion" long before He could move His hands to deliver His beloved (Matthew 14:14).
When we can do nothing but pray for loved ones who hurt, we look to the One who Himself knows the far greater pain of not always being able to immediately answer our prayers, despite having the capability to do so. God's abilities are always guided by His love, wisdom, and purposes. He will not be detoured by sentiment onto a path that would not result in His children's best interests. This sometimes means pain, in our loved ones, in ourselves, and in the Father who loves them and us enough to do that which is best rather than that which might in the moment cause all to feel better. "His way is perfect" declared David (II Samuel 22:31). But it is often excruciating for everyone involved, including and especially our Lord Himself.
"Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous."
Weekly Memory Verse
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?